Monday, April 21, 2014

Guest Blogger - Nancy Cohen on Story Magic

Story Magic by Nancy J. Cohen

Story Magic may not be real magic in the sense that something unexplained happens, but writers must have faith in it. Story Magic happened to me when I was writing Hanging By A Hair, my 11th Bad Hair Day mystery. I have a character who was jilted by a woman back when they were young lovers. The girl’s parents whisked her off to Europe so she could get over him.

Somewhere along the way, a thought struck me. What if the parents took her to Europe because she was pregnant? In those days, it would have been necessary to hide this state of affairs. Thus a whole new story angle was born that led to my sleuth tracking down this offspring to Marco Island, Florida.
These developments stem from the writer’s subconscious, but they seem like magic nonetheless. It’s something we cannot account for when we write a synopsis beforehand. The synopsis can be rewritten later to accommodate these plot changes. But it’s a wondrous feeling when a new angle suddenly pops into one’s head. It also makes the story more exciting for you, the reader. Because if I am surprised, so are you, and that makes for a better read.

The writing process itself is magical. Everyone always asks, where do you get your ideas? My reply is that ideas are everywhere. It’s having the time to write them which is the problem. Truly, story ideas in a series are easier to come by. The sequels spring from the setting, characters and plot developments that have come before. Thus after my hairdresser sleuth, Marla Shore, marries her boyfriend, a honeymoon is sure to follow. This becomes the setting for Peril by Ponytail, the next series installment.

And I’m already thinking to the book beyond. Marla has opened a day spa next to her salon. We haven’t centered a story there yet. I’ve put that nugget into my brain, along with a possible book title, hoping that the means of murder will pop into my head.

If you think about it, the entire reading experience is magical. You’re whisked away to an imaginary place you’re able to visualize from a bunch of words on a page. That’s a characteristic of humanity few people consider. But to have this ability to read fiction and to escape into another world is a blessed gift. Not everyone possesses it. If you’re one of the lucky readers, you can go to any time and place presented in a story or in your imagination. I feel bad for people who lack this ability. They’re rooted to reality, although they might escape by reading about home decoration or clothing styles or cars. Everyone finds a means to relax, but creating a fictional world in your head is truly a talent. Reading a work of fiction is a magical experience.

Do you like it to be quiet when you read, or do you not mind outside noise or music?


Hanging By A Hair
A Bad Hair Day Mystery
Marla’s joyous move to a new house with her husband, Detective Dalton Vail, is marred by their next-door neighbor who erects an illegal fence between their properties. When Dalton reminds the man of the local permitting laws, tempers flare—and worse, the neighbor is found dead the following day. Dismayed when Dalton is removed from the case due to a conflict of interest, Marla decides it’s up to her to find the killer.

Nancy J. Cohen writes the Bad Hair Day mystery series featuring hairdresser Marla Shore, who solves crimes with wit and style under the sultry Florida sun. Several of these titles have made the IMBA bestseller list. Nancy is also the author of Writing the Cozy Mystery, a valuable instructional guide for mystery writers. Her imaginative romances have proven popular with fans as well. Her titles in this genre have won the HOLT Medallion and Best Book in Romantic SciFi/Fantasy at The Romance Reviews. Active in the writing community and a featured speaker at libraries and conferences, Nancy is listed in Contemporary Authors, Poets & Writers, and Who's Who in U.S. Writers, Editors, & Poets. When not busy writing, she enjoys reading, fine dining, cruising and outlet shopping.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Happy Easter Weekend!

Happy Easter Weekend Everyone!

Okay give me six authors you are thankful for? Yes I had to set a limit. LOL Six people you are thankful for? Six books you are thankful for? of course six movies you are thankful for?
Six places you want to visit before you die?

Whew anyway you have all weekend to answer!


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

An Interview with Michele Drier

MM2: Michele how did you become an author?

I guess I’ve always wanted to write. I spent years as a newspaper reporter and editor and had bit, scraps and unfinished manuscripts in my desk drawer.

MM2: What is your writing schedule like?

Whew, it depends. I try to lump errands, meetings and appointments on the same day so that I have maybe four days a week I’m at home all day. I spend  two to three hours every morning going through email, doing marketing, send out requests for reviews and posting to social media sites. I try to write 500 words before lunch and another 2,000 to 3,000 in the afternoon.  I write best and fastest when I have a block of time at last three hours in the afternoon. I shoot to write 12,000 words a week, then spend time editing and rewriting.
MM2: Let's talk about the genre/s you like to write. Tell us about your latest book.

I write in two genres, traditional mystery and paranormal romance. My latest book, published March 20, is the seventh in The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, the paranormal romances. It’s called SNAP: White Nights and reviewers are calling it the best one yet.
I write three books a year—two paranormals and one mystery.

MM2: What would you like to say to your readers?

I hope you enjoy reading my books as much as I enjoy writing them. They’re all written with a soupcon of humor and the protags view life with a slice of wry (also, I love puns, the badder the better). I have some readers who feel that the characters in the Kandesky Chronicles are family, and reading a new book is like going to visit friends. That’s the experience I’d like all readers to have.

MM2: When you have a writing idea but maybe you are not sure if it is enough to make a book. How do you decide when enough is enough? Who do you go to talk to when you are having a difficult working day?

I don’t plot out my books, but I do have an idea of where each one needs to end up. The hardest part is the dreaded middle third—after you’ve set the scene and introduced everyone but before you write the resolution. Some books become novellas when the story is finished; most become full books. And I have a great critique group. We meet every other week, but stay in touch through email, so if I’m stuck, I fire something off. I also belong to Sisters in crime, Guppies and Indie Romance Writers, so if something come up, I can send out an SOS to the listserv.

MM2: Are there favorite books that you reread?

Oh, yes. Pearl Buck, Elizabeth Bowen, Gore Vidal. I also read non-fiction and William Manchester’s A World Lit Only by Fire, Churchill biographies and The Arms of Krupp are always beside by bed. As are Barbara Tuchman’s A Distant Mirror and The March of Folly.

MM2: Do you have favorite writing conventions or writing groups you would like to share with us?

One of the writing groups that has helped me tremendously is the online chapter of Sisters in Crime, the Guppies. It began as the Great Unpublished, but now has more than 500 members who run from thinking about writing a book to published award-winners. It offers on-line classes, critique groups, specific subgroups for those looking for a publisher or agent and through the listserv, support, technical advice and caring. (Full disclosure, I’m the current president, through 2015). The website is

MM2: Now for some fun questions. What is your favorite meal, vacation spot, movie and

Meal: Barbecued salmon, lemon risotto and grilled asparagus.
Vacation: France.
Movie: Lion in Winter
Season: Summer...summer. summer, summer!

MM2: By one of your characters please leave us with some words of wisdom?

Maxie’s mother in SNAP: The World Unfolds, Don’t get involved with someone prettier than you; they know it.

Michele Drier was born in Santa Cruz and is a fifth generation Californian. She’s lived and worked all over the state, calling both Southern and Northern California home.  During her career in journalism—as a reporter and editor at daily newspapers—she won awards for producing investigative series.
SNAP: White Nights  the seventh book of her paranormal romance series, The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, was published March 20. She’s working on the eighth book in the series, SNAP: All That Jazz, scheduled for publication in late spring 2014.
She also writes the Amy Hobbes Newspaper mysteries, Edited for Death and Labeled for Death. A third book, Delta for Death, is coming in 2014.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Good morning!

Good Morning Bloggers,

I hope you had a great weekend. We actually had a nice weather weekend. I spent mine taking walks, cross stitching and watched several movies and episodes.

Basically I wanted to check in today and see how everyone is doing what is new in your life?

What are you reading? I am reading the latest Monica Ferris Mystery (been reading on it off and on for a month), I also am reading The Book Of Old Houses by Sarah Graves and Keeping Mum by Alyse Carlson.

All are good mysteries. Do you have spring plans?

If any of our authors on this blog would like a new interview or would just rather send us a blog please contact me so we can add you to the list. Last month I was a bit disorganized but am back on track now....

Okay I love you all. Thank you for being here with us.



Thursday, April 10, 2014

Review: The Sayers Swindle by Victoria Abbott

Author; Victoria Abbott
A book collector Mystery Series

Jordan Bingham, has the best job in the world. She works for Vera Van Alst and very is the only glitch to her job. Vera is cranky on a good day.  When Vera's complete set of Dorothy Sayers Mysteries become missing. She wants them back and she wants them back yesterday.

Well aware with this new assignment that she is on the clock. Jordan turns to her friend Karen. Karen deals in real books and the glitch is that Karen has a head injury that effects her memory.
However Karen remembers she sold the books to a collector and eventually they end up at the home of Randolph Adams. They once again hit a snag he not only doesn't want to part with the books but his memory is also almost as bad as his family. BUT all is not lost because Karen has a book she would like to trade him for the Sayers Collection.
Things turn a little scary and a lot funky when the who family disappears. a cop tries to befriend Jordan, in her family this might be a fate worse than death.
Then murder and more strangers turn pretty soon even Jordan's friends start to act stranger than fiction.

All I can say is that this series keeps getting better and better. Not only am I emotionally invested in the characters but the plot twist are remarkable. Not only that but the whole plot is believable and this series has topped my must- read list.
Don't miss this series and rush to get THE SAYERS SWINDLE. I do not care if you get it at the library, amazon or your local bookstore just get a copy and read it ASAP.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

An Interview with Lois Winston

MM2: Lois would you tell us about the first book you wrote? Was it published?

The first book I ever wrote was a 50,000 word romance that spanned thirty-five years. Needless to say, I had a lot to learn about writing a publishable novel! So I set about learning how to write. Ten years and many reams of paper later, I sold my first novel, Talk Gertie to Me, a humorous story about a mother, a daughter, and an acerbic imaginary friend. And that 50,000 word romance? It segued into a 90,000 word romantic suspense that took place over the course of a few months and became Love, Lies and a Double Shot of Deception, the second novel I sold.

MM2: How many books have you penned and in what genres have you written?

Under my own name and my Emma Carlyle pen name I’ve written eleven novels, one novella, two novelettes, a collection of short stories, a non-fiction book on writing, and been part of four fiction and one non-fiction anthologies. Genres include mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit and women’s fiction.

MM2: Share what a typical work day is like.

Would this be a typical productive work day or a typical procrastinating work day? Either way, the alarm goes off at 7am. I flip on Good Morning America and watch the headline stories for about twenty minutes. Then I have breakfast and read the morning newspaper. After that I sit down at the computer to go through emails. I’m off to Curves for my thirty minutes of exercise by 8:30am. Come home, shower, dress, and run back out to do any errands that need doing. Once all of that is done, I settle in for a day of work. On days when I’m procrastinating, I check email too often and catch up on an episode of one TV show or another during lunch. On days when I’m not procrastinating, I often forget to each lunch. Sometimes I get on the treadmill for 30-45 minutes around 3pm because I get stiff from sitting to long. Oh, and there are numerous coffee breaks throughout the day, whether I’m procrastinating or not. A girl’s got to have her caffeine! And hopefully, at some point I’ve remembered to defrost something for dinner and get it in the oven before my husband arrives home from work. That’s not always the case. All I can say is, thank heaven for microwave ovens!

MM2: What is the best writing advice you have received?

Absolute best advice ever: Every scene MUST have a purpose, and there are only two purposes for scenes in a novel—to advance the plot or tell the reader something she needs to know AT THAT MOMENT about the character. If the scene does neither, get rid of it.

MM2: Do you attend conferences? If so which conferences do you attend?

I’ve attended both regional and national conferences over the years, sometimes as an attendee, sometimes as a speaker. Because I started out writing romance, I went to RWA for years. Now I mostly go to mystery conferences and conventions. Over the last few years I’ve been to Malice Domestic and Bouchercon, but I’ve taken a break from conferences this year except for the Create Something Magical conference sponsored by Liberty States Fiction Writers, a multi-genre writing organization which I helped found.

MM2: What future writing plans do you have for this year and next year?

I’m currently writing Patchwork Peril, the third Anastasia Pollack Mini-Mystery. These are novelette companions to my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series. When I’m finished, I’ll be starting the fifth book in the series. I’m also about 75% finished with the first book in a new series I’m calling The Empty Nest Mysteries. I hope to finish all three projects by the end of the year, but I need to write more, procrastinate less, in order to accomplish that. Or find some way to clone myself. As for next year, I need to get through this one first.

MM2: When the stress of your job and deadlines make those writing days not so easily attainable how do you de-stress?

If it’s a beautiful day, I’ll go for a long walk. If not, or if I’m feeling particularly lazy, I’ll veg out on the couch and binge-stream a TV series I never got to watch when it first aired. So much good TV, so little time!

MM2: What would you like to say or share with your readers?

I hope my readers know how much I appreciate them. Without readers where would we authors be?

MM2: Last but not least would you share one of your most inspiring author moments?

A few years ago I received an email from a reader who wrote a very personal note to me. She’d been going through an extremely difficult period in her life and was suffering severe depression. One day she started reading one of my books and laughed for the first time in months. She wanted me to know how I had helped her get through one of the lowest points in her life. That email will always remain one of the high points of my writing career. To know I’ve been able to touch someone in such a powerful way with my writing is priceless.

Award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, and non-fiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry.


Monday, April 7, 2014

An Interview with Terri Parsons - AKA my trip to the United Arab Emirates

MM2: Let's start from the beginning of your journey. Let's talk about where your vacation destination took place? 

I went to the UAE (United Arab Emirates) specifically to three of the seven emirates:  Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.  We had to go a round-about way though.  Since it was a tour, the flights were originating in NY or NJ, so even though the flight transfered planes in Dulles (right near where Jocelyn (my traveling companion) lived, we had to take the early morning train to Newark, fly to Dulles, wait and transfer planes.  Very long but it would have cost a lot more to break the standard flight.

MM2: How was your flight and what did you do for all of those hours you were in the air?

Too long. LOL  Train, a couple hours, flight to Duller an hour 15 minutes, but then to Dubai was an additional 13+ hours.  Thanks to a lovely eyemask Christmas present from Jane the night before and a neck pillow and blanket, I slept a lot.  Watched Gravity and We are The Millers.  Read a bit, did puzzles, drank wine.  The usual.  
MM2: Was the  weather what you expected?

Yes and no.  we actually knew it wasn't going to be ultra hot like in the summer since it was February.  It was 80ish most days.  Cool in evenings.  The final day in Dubai we actually had one of their average 10 days of rain per year so it was fun.  

MM2: Now what was the group you were traveling with like? Set the atmosphere of your journey.

The group was great.  This was a special deal from Gate 1 Travel.  The group were all seasoned travelers and wanting to explore exotic places which was nice.  There was another Jocelyn as well who was wearing an identical skirt to my friend Jocelyn the first day - instant connection. LOL  We had people who had been to amazing places with wonderful stories to share.  Never dull conversation.  

MM2: What did you learn about the culture and food that you maybe you didn't know beforehand?
Well, we had a fabulous guide - Muinir (who was from Yemen and who had lived in Dubai for 18 years) who had seen all the changes and growth over the last years that turned it into the thriving destination it is.  He was incredibly knowledgeable and would answer ALL our questions.  Cultural, religious, historic.  The funny thing is he told us about the treaties for oil transporation back in the early 70s that setup the ability for them to do all they have done with the money from the oil revenues etc., and when I got back, I found out that one of the founding members of our firm was instrumental in all that.  So cool.  I will say, the Emirati people are taken care of by the government (free health care, land, education) and their have been some amazing leaders with the ability to setup a system to draw in working business models.  Some cultural things I am more knowledgeable about now but still not comfortable with (polygamy obviously, some of the restrictions on women) but the different emirates have different rules.  That said, the food was good but we ate at hotel a lot too which had a very diverse menu.  I did try camel's milk while I was there, that was probably the only thing I had NEVER had before.  It was a little tangy/salty but fine.

MM2: Tell us about some of the most spectacular things you saw ?

The Burj Khalifa (world's highest building) and the view from the top.  Terrifying and spectacular.  And it is from there it is REALLY apparent how they built this out of the desert.  The souks were fun. Jewelry, spices, rugs, pashminas.  I am a terrible bargainer but Jocelyn is great.  The malls were OVER the TOP.  Think high end mall times ten.  Extravagant and HUGE.  ALL the big stores.  Not that we had time to bother with that.  And of course many had ice rinks and bowling alleys in them.  Mall of the Emarites had a ski Slope, zip line and bobsledding.  No time for that either though we watched others do it.  Oasis.  Green out of desert.  Fun.  Date trees with an impressive man who could scale in seconds.  Desert, camels, The third largest mosque in the world.... Museums.  History.  So so much.

MM2: What was your favorite place to see and what was your favorite part of the trip?

THe desert safari.  We took land cruisers into the dunes and surfed.  Fast, spinning, up down, sideways.  I was screaming with delight while others in the group might have been screaming for other reasons. LOL.  Then we went to Bedouin camp.  Rode camels, had henna painting on hands, belly dancing - watched and participated.  Whirling Dervish.  Amazing.  Made me dizzy to think about it.  Danced with him too.  Smoking hookah, eating dinner on rugs out in desert.  music. Conversation with new friends.  Absolutely perfect night.

MM2: Were there interesting people that you enjoyed talking to and befriended?
Yes - here is Brenda watching the dancing.  She and Ignacio and her parents were our buddies on this trip and we had a fabulous time.

MM2: Since this was not your first visit out of the country. How did this country leave you with a positive feeling?
It was totally different than anywhere I have ever gone.  And I felt safe the entire time which is a question people don't always want to ask but should in this day and age.

MM2: Tell us about the fun you had and did you enjoy the accommodations ?

Hotels were very good though we weren't there a lot.  Though Joc and I did squeeze in massages one day! Honestly we were kept very very busy.  The hotel in Abu Dhabi also had a fun hookah bar as well.

MM2:  Was there an unexpected adventure you didn't plan to have in your travels?

We did end up singing on stage with the cover band from the Phillipines in our hotel one night.  A medley of We Will Rock You by Queen and I Love Rock N Roll by Joan Jett.  And Jocelyn did some other GREAT songs with them, but then she is a really good singer and well, I am not... LOL

Mm2: In closing did this trip bring to light any self discovery?

Yes.  I definitely felt the fluidity of time on this trip.  Past and Presents are so intertwined there.  We went to a grave mound as old as those I went to in Ireland and Scotland and that was over 2000 years old.  Time and place and my perceptions have altered quite a bit.  Hard to explain and very Timey Wimey thinking But I geuss final thoughts are WE ARE ONE WORLD, and ultimately ONE PEOPLE with a lot of special experiences and history and until we GET that, change is slow.


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Guest Blogger - Alice Duncan

It’s April

Having said that, I have nothing else to add.

Not really. But the end of the month kind of crept up on me, and I never even thought about a blog until today, March 31. However, I do have a few things worth mentioning (I hope).

The first is that I finished writing a book in March. Titled DARK SPIRITS, it’s book #8 for Daisy Gumm Majesty, Sam Rotondo, and Daisy’s family and dog, Spike. The Ku Klux Klan features large in this book. Let me tell you, it’s not all that easy to write a basically funny book about the Klan, because the Klan is so not funny. Also, I was shocked and surprised to learn that the Klan actually gained a foothold in my beloved City of Pasadena, California, in the early 1920s. Well, 1923 was the precise year I wanted. So I got in touch with Rosalie Jaquez, librarian at the (equally beloved by me) Pasadena Public Library, and she sent me a whole bundle of information about the Klan and the geography of Pasadena in 1923, which isn’t as easy to find as one might think (the geography, I mean). But Rosalie was a champ, and she helped me heaps.

So did Mimi Riser, friend and fellow author, who suggested I get the book AN UNDERGROUND EDUCATION, by Richard Zacks. I tell you, if you ever want to know the hidden history of anything, check out this book. I not only learned that the Klan had an uptick in membership in the early 1920s primarily because a sheet-maker in Atlanta wanted to make money, but also that the price of Klan membership in early twenties was $10.00. The price of a Klan sheet (with the pointy head covering) was $6.50.

Mimi’s participation in my book-writing process is nothing new. In fact, if it weren’t for Mimi Riser, I’d have quit writing anything at all several years ago. She’s the inspiration behind my newest published Daisy book (SPIRITS REVIVED). Well, she and the image I got in my brain of Daisy holding up a bad guy with a pair of chopsticks, but that wasn’t as important to the writing of my past several books as Mimi’s been. In fact, there would be no PECOS VALLEY books at all if it weren’t for Mimi. Too long a story to detail here, but trust me on this.

Then there are my beta readers, who include former RWA Librarian of the Year Lynne Welch; Michigan schoolteacher Sue Krekeler; and a new cyber friend who lived for years in Pasadena and Altadena, Andie Paysinger. Without them . . . well, there wouldn’t be a book without input from Lynne. There might have been a book without Andie and Sue, but it wouldn’t have been a very good one.

Who said writing is a lonely profession? I swear. And I’ve never even met Mimi, Rosalie, Lynne, Sue, or Andie, except via the Internet. Of course, if I didn’t live in the outer reaches of the universe (Roswell, New Mexico) maybe I’d get out more, but it’s hard to get anywhere from here. You can trust me on this, too.

Um . . . what else? Oh, yeah. I signed up to attend the mystery conference Bouchercon in November. It’s being held in Long Beach, CA, so I’ll get to visit friends and relations after it’s over.

I’ll be giving away copies of PECOS VALLEY RAINBOW in April. If you’d like to enter my contest, send me an email with your name and address to At the end of the month, Bam-Bam, my latest winner-picking wiener dog, will select two or three wieners. I mean winners.

Review: Blotto, Twinks and the Intimate Review by Simon Brett

Blotto and his friend go see  Light and Frothy;   a new popular show and his friend falls for the star of the show.  After his friend is k...